Course Description

At the heart of communication in healthcare settings and beyond are decisions related to language and word choice. As palliative care has developed and been integrated across settings and diagnoses, phrases and concepts such as “comfort care," and  “suffering” weave across discussions, often without consciousness of the cultural, social, and historical contexts of the patient and family we are serving. No matter the setting, words and phrases significantly impact patient, family and clinician experiences, decisional outcomes, bereavement and legacy. Well-intentioned, yet misplaced word choice, can negatively impact patient interpretation of information, insert bias and create distance when the goal is to enhance connection. Healthcare clinicians can model and educate as they attend to their own language in speaking and documentation, and invite colleagues to join them in mitigating the unintended consequences of ineffective word choice.

Approved for Continuing Education

*Please note: In order to be eligible for CE credit, you must register with your full name (as it appears on your professional license) and your license state and number.

Approved for 2 contact/clock hours of continuing education credit by the Continuing Education Institute of Illinois in collaboration with the University of Illinois Department of Family Medicine for the following professions:

  • Acupuncturist
  • Athletic Trainer
  • Counselor-Professional/Clinical
  • Dentist/Dental Hygienist
  • Dietitian/Nutritionist
  • Marriage and Family Counselor
  • Nurse (APN, RN, LPN)
  • Nursing Home Administrator
  • Occupational Therapist/COTA
  • Physical Therapist/PTA
  • Psychologist
  • Respiratory Therapist
  • Social Worker


Guest Instructor

Terry Altilio

Terry Altilio is a palliative social work consultant with more than three decades of direct practice experience in palliative care, most recently in the Division of Palliative Care at Mount Sinai Beth Israel. She was a recipient of a Mayday Pain and Society Fellowship Award in 2006 and a Social Work Leadership award from the Open Society Institute’s Project on Death in America, which supported a post-graduate social work fellowship and a social work listserv, both of which are continuing programs. In 2013, Altilio was selected to receive the Project on Death in America Career Achievement Award from the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Network. She lectures nationally and internationally on such topics as pain management, ethics, palliative care, and psychosocial issues in palliative care. She also lectures in post-master’s degree programs at NYU and Smith College, and is a guest faculty member of an internet course through California State University San Marcos. She is co-editor, with Shirley Otis-Green, of the Oxford Textbook of Palliative Social Work and, with Bridget Sumser and Meaghan Leimena, Palliative Care – A Guide for Health Social Workers.

Guest Instructor

Anne Kelemen

Anne Kelemen, LICSW, ACHP-SW is the Director of Psychosocial Spiritual Care at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Ms. Kelemen joined the MedStar Washington Hospital Center Section of Palliative Care in 2013. In 2015, she was named MedStar Health Palliative Care Clinician of the Year. Prior to joining the Hospital Center staff, Ms. Kelemen instituted the first palliative care service at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. She first developed an interest in palliative care while a hospice volunteer in Maryland, and then received her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Maryland and a post-master’s certificate in End of Life Care from the Smith College School of Social Work. Ms. Kelemen continues to facilitate support groups for bereaved family members and for teens and young adults. Her research interests include the intersection between language and medicine, non-physical pain, and spirituality at the end of life.

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